"My parents say I was singing before I was talking." Twenty-two years later, Leah Galyean has turned that innate talent into her most personal form of self-expression. She, along with her band, has developed an alternative rock sound that can sometimes be called emotional, sometimes be called comforting; but if anything, it is certainly distinct. Their self-titled debut album, "The Leah Galyean Band", has just erupted onto the Chicago music scene. Still, "even if we never sold a single copy, it wouldn't be a waste."
Leah never intended to be a singer/songwriter. She has, however, spent most of her life performing. While growing up in Southern California, the young entertainer made the natural progression from small plays in her home to numerous student, community and regional theatrical productions. As a teenager, Leah became accustomed to the attention, the escape that acting offered. In 1995, she began pursuing a theatre degree at Northwestern University.
The life changes that college forced upon Leah had her questioning her identity and her motivation for performing. Memories of her dad playing the guitar, singing John Denver songs deeply inspired her to pick up the instrumment her sophmore year incollege. Initially, she began writing songs to find a center, for "spiritual groundedness." As her song library grew, she found "a lot of songwriting was coping with issues going way back...to the reasons that I became an actor." This realization took form in "Light Rain," the first of Leah's songs that appears on the album. The song's lyrics echo the dangers of denial and running away from reality.
Many facets of Leah's life soon were exposed to the musical staff with topics ranging from child abuse to teen suicide to the importance of dreams. The buzz around Leah's hobby increased and eventually, talk of producing her music came about. Having played with several bands, she made a wish list of the best musicians she knew to help her in a singular weeekend of recording. She got all her top choices. In the fall of 1998, electric guitarist David Johanson, bassist/violinist Ethan Adelsman, and drummer Michael Stackhouse assembled to make the Leah Galyean Band. The combinations of talents and personalities created a stimulating vibe, allowing Leah's perspectives and doubts to flourish into a richly layered narrative of discovery. In the process, it became apparent that a mere weekend could not encompass what they hoped to acheive with the music. There was a sense that they had something special, something that should not simply be thrown around. A consensus was soon reached among the foursome to invest more time (and money) to perfect the sound that began with Leah's vision.
This serious detour led the band to the studio of seasoned engineer and producer Jim Reeves. With Reeves' 30 plus years of professional expertise backed up with several gold records, the team honed their sound. In addition to building on their undeniable chemistry, "we really were passionate about making each song different, to fit what that song was trying to say." Recording began in January 1999. With the contributions of each member, such as David's agility and creativity on electric guitar, drummer Mike's hip-hop and R&B background, and Ethan's rhythmic bass lines, Leah's songs evolved into a textured, electronically advanced reality.
Leah Galyean's life lessons culminated in June of 1999. In additiont to completing her 11-track album, she graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern with a degree in musical theatre. Leah still acts, but now has the accesssibility to bring her own humanity to the role, may it be Shakespeare, Stoppard or Sondheim. Leah is enthusiastically enjoying the challenge of live performance with her band mates and the luxury of immediate feedback that an audience offers. Whether on stage or in the studio, the opportunity to connect to people through her words and her music is now what drives her performing endeavors, wherever they may lead.
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